Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chapter 30 plus some welcome news!!

Two seconds ago I got some really amazing news. No, it's not about the Goodreads Choice Award. SING ME TO SLEEP didn't win, but thanks to all of you and your help and votes, we made a darn good showing.

This is even better than that! After weeks and weeks watching and waiting for this incredible recording of the song that changes Beth's life the Amabile Youth Singers were so gracious to produce for me, I'm delighted to announce "Take me Home," from SING ME TO SLEEP is now available on iTunes.  Harriet Bushman, composer and arranger, astounded me with what she turned my words into. We're mourning here in Arizona--I cried again today when the TV coverage showed the gigantic 9/11 flag hung between two ladder trucks in front of the church where the little nine-year-old girl's funeral was held. I'm going to close my eyes and listen to this and feel better. Please, please buy it! Harriet and I donated our royalties, so all the proceeds go to keep the Amabile family singing.

After Tuesday's scene, I thought we could leap ahead a few weeks to Michael agreeing to meet with the missionaries, but every time I tried to imagine it, my mind got fuzzy. Cold medicine? Congestion? Or not the right scene?

I stonewalled yesterday and couldn't write anything. This morning as I pondered what I should write instead, I saw Michael driving home from his day with Leesie attacked by doubts. Ah-hah! No fuzzy head. Despite cold medicine and congestion that defies all concoctions, this next chapter flowed as fast as I could scribble and took Michael to a place I hadn't planned. A place I tried to skip.

I've been lying in bed too miserable to even read much, so I've watched hour after hour of coverage of the Tucson tragedy. The senseless massacre. The waste of precious lives. The heroism. The miracles. This week, I needed to be where this scene ends, and I'm grateful to Michael for taking me there. I hope it speaks to your hearts, too.

Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  07/01
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  

I was on a total high all day today. When Leesie and I picked up Aunty J, she beamed at me and swore her foot felt better already. Wound treatment in the hyperbaric chamber takes a series of one or two hour sessions over days—maybe weeks—so it was probably just the O2 high talking. She made me feel amazing, though.
Amazed. Astounded. That’s kind of how I’ve felt since last night. The high lasted all afternoon while Jaz telephoned all her friends from church with the good news and hit them up for rides to and from the hospital, and Leesie and I slowly forged ahead reading The Book of Mormon. We’d read, she’d explain, and I asked questions.
I got suspicious when she insisted on skipping a whole bunch of chapters.
“What’s in it?” Maybe that’s where they hide all the secret stuff about polygamy.
“Isaiah. Bible prophet. He wrote in code so the king wouldn’t off with his head. I get lost. Nephi explains what it means here.” She smoothed down the page.
I believed her then—every word. She was so intensely happy. I’m tempted to give a thumbs up to the missionaries just so I can watch her. I want to keep her happy. She hasn’t been like this for so long. I always knew this was a huge deal for her, but seeing how thrilled she is that I’ll finally admit there seems to be a divine power out there makes me wish I could have come to this sooner. I was grieving, angry. Stubborn. Proud. An idiot. Today, after everything we’ve been through, how could I not believe her?
But now as I drive through Georgetown at rush hour worrying that I won’t make it back to East End in time for the night dive I swapped my mornings dive for, cursing my own stupidity for not taking the northern route, I wonder what’s in those mysterious chapters. Maybe I’ll read them myself. No harm in at least looking at them.
How can I doubt Leesie now? Doubt those feelings that seem so real to me. I know—it’s stupid. I should. I love her. I know she wouldn’t lie to me. But how do I know the divine essence I felt are the Beings she describes? That’s a huge leap.
I’m working hard searching for that essence in the Book of Mormon. So far I’m touched and intrigued, but who is to say I won’t find the same essence in other holy books? Should I study those, too, and pray about them? Does the Book of Mormon being true make everything else false? Leesie believes in the Bible like other Christians, plus a bunch of stuff Joseph Smith wrote. Not stuff. Revelations.
If I were in love with a Budhist girl or a Catholic girl or a Jewish girl, would I have these feelings about her faith? Am I imagining everything to please Leesie? To keep her?
I used to think all religion was crap—crazy stuff used to enslave people. Isn’t that what most educated people really think? Whether they go to church or not? But if there is something real in the concept of God, is there something real in all religion? Is some lies? Some truth? How does he feel about all the evil stuff people have done—still do—in the name of religion? Is He down with crusades, burning witches, and suicide bombers?
I can’t comprehend the whole Jesus Christ dying for my sins thing. Leesie says no one does—you have to take it on faith. Feel it.
Faith. That’s another thing I don’t get.
I see it in Leesie. She’s got too much faith—in me.
I make it to East End with no time to spare for dinner. It’s okay. Leesie fed me and Jaz a giant lunch. I’ll live. I bolt down to the dock and start flinging tanks into the boat. I push myself into a frenzy so I can’t think up more doubts, more questions. I work so fast the boat is ready ten minutes before anybody’s going to show up.
I’m sweaty and hot, so I slip off my T-shirt and stand in the dock shower a minute. I close my eyes and try to recapture how I felt when Leesie and I prayed together before I left Aunty Jaz’s shack. She didn’t make me kneel down or do anything freaky. She just took my hand and bowed her head right there where we were sitting. “Bless Michael as he learns line upon line that he will come to know and Love Thee, Thy Son, and Thy gospel.”
Line upon line. Step by step. Standing on the lonely dock with my face turned up to the refreshing cool water, I try to address Him—Leesie’s God—not just a divine essence. “Dear Heavenly Father,” I whisper and can’t continue.
I’m engulfed in love.
A father’s love.
A brother’s love.
A love that feels like home.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chapter 29 - continued--finally!

I crawled out of bed long enough to get this posted. I'm a pathetic baby when I'm sick, but today my cough was under control so I could write. Thanks for your patience. I'm sorry to make you wait for this so long. My next post will be Thursday.

This is the rest of Chapter 29. Chapter 30 will start with a Dive Log from Michael.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

POEM # ??,

My kayak paddle digs
deep into the turquoise water.
I pull the blade through,
raise it, dig deep again
in rhythm with Michael
paddling behind me.

He’d burst into Jaz’s shack earlier,
bundled me and Aunty Jaz into his car
and sped to the big hospital near
my clinic. “Hurry, we’re late.”
Is the only clue he divulges.

By the time I manage
to get Jaz on her feet
he’s back with a wheelchair
and a beautiful nurse
with a clipboard and thick,
long, long back hair.
I’m frozen by that hair.
But Aunty Jaz pipes up,
“Dear boy, you’re mistaken
I don’t have an appointment.”

Michael ignores her, eases
her into the wheelchair
and races away.
I lock my hands behind
my back so I don’t touch
the inch and a half long
growth that covers my head
or pull a handful of the nurse’s
beautiful hair off her
innocent, unsuspecting head.

I follow through double doors,
down halls, around a corner,
notice a “Dive Medicine Clinic” sign,
worry that Michael’s bent again,
realize that makes no sense at all.
“Wait here.” He motions me to a
waiting area as he pushes Jaz
through more glass doors and
around a corner.

I sit on a yellow waiting room couch,
wait and wait until—there he is!
I barge through the glass doors.
“They are prepping her for the chamber.”
He’s totally lost me.
“Aunty Jaz isn’t bent.”
He grins big and takes my hands.
“Oxygen therapy. Great for wounds that won’t heal.”
I frown, worried. “She can’t afford this.”
He shrugs. “But I can.”

We’ve got two hours to ourselves.
He’s taken the whole day off.
So here we are paddling
out to his favorite free diving spot.

He stows his paddle to signal
our arrival. I tuck my paddle
alongside his. Instead of bailing
over the side, he opens his arms wide.
“Come here, babe.”
I maneuver into them,
snuggle my face
into his neck,
while his arms wrap me up tight.

He kisses his favorite spot
on my mangy skull and whispers,
“I think something answered.”
I bolt up—almost tip the kayak.
“You prayed!” My lips attack
in jubilation before he can answer.
He holds me off.
“Not fancy words like you—
I just asked.”
I have to kiss him one more time.
“That’s all you have to do.”
I sit back, so he can explain.

“I didn’t hear a voice
or anything or see stuff
in my head like you do,
but I had this feeling—”
He pauses, can’t speak for a moment.
He swallows and grips my hand.
“I, um, I—wasn’t alone.”
I hug him and cry.
His lips rest on my forehead,
and his arms squeeze me.
“Do you know what that means,
Leesie?” He gazes off into the distance.
“We’re not alone.”

Before I can answer, he props me
up, and holds me by the arms,
gives me a shake. “I woke up this
morning with this idea for
Aunty Jaz burgeoning in my brain.”
I smile, and try to say something,
but he gets there first.
“It grew and grew until
I picked up the phone and called
the chamber.”

My eyes fill up with joyful tears
to consecrate the moment.
He wipes them away.
“I love the way this feels.”
I touch his cheek. “Me, too.”

He takes my hand and
kisses my palm.
“Do you think this can happen
again or is it a one shot deal?”
I gather both of his hands in mine,
kneel on the kayak floor in front of him,
gaze forever into his eyes.
“Whenever you’re willing
to pay the price—it’s there.
You’ve felt it before.”

He nods. “What do you we now?”
I swallow and wipe my nose
with the back of my hand.
“We can call the missionaries.”
His forehead creases concern.
“I love reading with you.
Can we keep doing that?”
That makes me start crying again.
He holds me close—our lips meet,
but it’s more like our hearts
mesh than our mouths.

I rest my ear against his chest
try to hear if he beats a fresh rhythm
to match mine. My soul soars
with hope—the fuzzy outlines of
forever with Michael become
a detailed sketch, glowing and radiant.
“Did I tell you I love you today?”
He rolls over the kayak’s side
into the water, deftly bringing
me with him. “Not enough.”